Skip to main content

tv   Book Discussion  CSPAN  October 4, 2014 7:48pm-8:54pm EDT

7:48 pm
>> we can start the signing now. if you have purchased a book you can start lining up this way toward the elevator. >> book tv is on facebook. like us to get publishing news, scheduling updates combined the scenes pictures and video, author information and to talk directly with authors during airline program. >> pulitzer prize-winning author, lawrence wright recounts the camp david accords were president jimmy carter brokered a peace treaty between the israeli prime minister and egyptian president. the author profiles their respective war leaders and reports on their daily meetings over 13 days. this is about an hour and ten minutes. >> good evening. the carter presidential library and museum. and please you holler year.
7:49 pm
there is no more appropriate place for this of their program and write your. last november the carter library and the central intelligence agency had a seminar. the cia released a number of documents related to the camp david accord, and it was just a fascinating look at everything that went in to getting ready for the camp david accord. president carter discussing his remembrances of the camp david accord. one of the people and the audience that they was lawrence wright, an author, a screen writer, playwright, staff writer for the new yorker to my written for southern voices, texas monthly, rolling stone. many of his articles have won prizes, including two national magazine awards. he is the co-writer of movies, the siege ended noriega, god's favor.
7:50 pm
the author of when novel and eight nonfiction books including in those nonfiction books the looming tower. going clear, scientology, hollywood, and that prison a belief. his most recent book 13 days in september carter, reagan, is about is what brings us all here today. the new york times did a review of it this last week. it is a glowing review of the work he's done, and i think it probably sums it up best at the end when he says , when the writer says, lawrence wright makes a master in the case that it is time we gave credit to jimmy carter, gave him full credit for all the lives he has inspired diplomacy is saved. it is a fascinating story. the first time really put into context in lawrence wright spoke. please join us in welcoming
7:51 pm
lawrence wright. [applause] >> it is good to be back in atlanta, not just back from their research that i did here at the library, but i used to live around the corner. we lived on what was then called forest road and is now ralph mcgill boulevard. some of you know that. this was a vacant lot. it looked like it would never be anything other than a vacant lot, but it is so great to see what it has become. i will tell you a little bit about how this book came about, and then i will talk about three chronologies that i have in the book, the 13 days of camp david in the history of the modern middle east and also the sort of biblical plague that move
7:52 pm
history around even to the state. this book had a really hot beginning. unique, as far as i know. i got a call in 2011 from gerald russian, many of you know him. he was jimmy carter's media adviser in the white house. and he was asking if i would be interested in writing a play about camp david. his pitch was that this is when a born-again christian, a pious muslim, and an orthodox jew went behind closed doors for 13 days and emerged with the only durable peace treaty in the region. it was a pretty good pitch. i thought, that is interesting. and also, you know, we have lived here when carter was governor, when he ran for president. we also lived in cairo. we were teaching at the american university here.
7:53 pm
and i was a reporter, and i spent several trips to israel. so i thought it was a good fit for me, but i said from the beginning, i want to research this just the same way i would to a new yorker story or a book. i have to talk to everybody. have to go to the middle east and talk to all of the surviving delegates over there so that leave their perspective in as well. so we began by going. and for those of you who have never been to the president and mrs. carter's house there, it is modest. they build it after jimmy retire from the navy and came on to take over the pena warehouse after his father died. and they were sitting on a blue couch with matching current behind them. on the wall line accounts
7:54 pm
was a painting that jimmy carter had done of the room wearing. it looked to me like an illustration from good night moon. so he says, mr. president, he works for the new yorker. at this time i have to preface this. on working on the play, not the book and trying to envision, and my mind he was on stage. i mean, anybody else? surgery says, larry works for the new yorker. he recently wrote a piece about scientology. well, i read that. i found that most intriguing . and he turns around and says, since when did you start reading the new yorker the fourth character suddenly appeared in my mind i needed somebody who could talk to jimmy carter like that. growth and carter was born in the house next door to
7:55 pm
him. they had known each other for almost a century. and they still have a vital an interesting relationship. he was especially helpful been for one thing i learned that camp david wasser idea. carter had put a lot of energy into trying to create an international summit in geneva, but the truth is it was doomed from the beginning. the geopolitical forces were never going to make a success. and he and rosalynn were at camp david. she said, why don't you just bring them here? it so in many respects i think she is the on a knowledge author of this peace treaty. it was in some ways her inspired idea that brought this plan together. i have noted in her memoir that she kept a personal diary at camp david. 200 typewritten pages, she
7:56 pm
said. and so when we were in planes and said, mrs. carter, sure would like to have a look at that diary no, it's around here somewhere. no effort to find it. could not find it here. so i kept pestering and he finally called the president and one day a brown, manila envelope arrived in the mail. it was very helpful in charting the emotional tenor of those 13 tumultuous days and the toll it was taking and everybody. so i highlighted the stuff that was useful and made some marginal notes. allied leader gerry calls and says, larry, where is that diary? she wants it back. it is for only copy. so if you're wondering sunday, future historians, it was me. so after that we went to
7:57 pm
egypt and israel and talked to the surviving delegates, is. and this all manifest itself in a play that appeared at the stage in washington this past spring, and we are hoping, you know, we hope we can take it to broadway and elsewhere. one day we hope will come to atlanta. i was apprehensive about the president's reaction, and he was apprehensive about the place before we saw it. and at the end jerry said that he had never seen carter cry. he was openly weeping. he went up on stage, he and rosalynn and sadat was also present. and he went. hallie foote play rosalyn. he went and played -- took her hand and said to my fellow love with you again tonight. a pretty good line for a man that is about to be 90 years
7:58 pm
old. i have to say. but by that time i was already deep into writing this book. you know, the shoes that were on the table at camp david, so many of them are in front of us still today. and i thought, if i could write about what was going on at camp david, i could understand in a deeply their roots of this conflict that continues to send the middle east into turmoil and threatens the world order. so much tragedy has emerged from this region, so many wars, so many refugees, so much terrorism, and so little hope. but there was one time when peace was achieved, and this book is the story of how that peace was made. at think it is useful to look at a moment like this, and peace was accomplished despite the pessimism that to decrease arouse the idea
7:59 pm
of middle east peace. it seems like people steer when you say that, the idea that there could be anything other than the eternal war between arabs and jews. if you look at israel and egypt, in the first 30 years of israel's existence there were four wars. and there was a 51. one of attrition when i was living there. so really near continual warfare between these two countries. in the 35 years since camp david there's not been a single violation of the treaty between israel and egypt. ..
8:00 pm
which continue to shape modern history. the struggle for peace at camp david is a testament to the enduring force of religion and the difficulty of shedding mythologies that lured societies into conflict. let's begin with the biblical concept of the promised land, the legend at the root of this conflict. and genesis, god speaks to abraham in a dream and promises to give him and his descendents
8:01 pm
the land between the nile and the euphrates, the territory that would encompass southern turkey, western iraq, parts of saudi arabia, all of syria, jordan, israel the west bank, gaza, sinai and half of egypt. later god makes a similar pledge to moses as he leads his people out of egypt although the boundaries are now from the red sea to the euphrates. on another occasion god tells moses the promised land is really canaan which is an entity that is much more like modern israel including the west bank and much of southern lebanon. defining borders has always been a problem in the middle east evidently even. when the wandering israelites reached the river jordan god draws moses to mount and says this is a land that i promised to abraham and his descendents.
8:02 pm
you have the opportunity to see it but i will not let you crossover. so abraham, so moses was able to look out from mt. nebo and see it all the way to the mediterranean sea and then he passed away at the age of 120 having delivered his people out of egypt and through the wilderness of sinai. now at this point god instructs moses successor joshua to take the israelites into the promised land, saying every place you have set foot i have given you. however the land is not taken. the story of joshua's conquest of the promised land is one of the most shocking events in the bible. cities have burned to the grou ground, populations are wiped out. every man, woman and child in the the livestock slaughtered on the lord's instruction to kill every living thing. in that way the children of israel finally came into
8:03 pm
possession of the promised land. one of the many problems with the biblical account is that during the time of exodus all of this territory was part of the ancient egyptian empire. the 31 kings and joshua have are said to have executed were all paying taxes to the pharaoh before during and after the supposed israelite invasion. from the earliest times the egyptian people had a terrific talent for bureaucracy. they kept extensive records. there's no historical or archaeological evidence of the israelites were ever in egypt. the bible records that 603,560 israelite men above the age of 20 plus their wives and children and various hangers on are estimated to be 2 million people spent 40 years wandering into sinai on their journey to the promised land but 2 million people lined up 10 abreast
8:04 pm
stretching more than 150 miles, more than the entire width of the sinai peninsula. there's no evidence of the presence in the sinai. archaeologists have excavated most of the cities that joshua said to have raised. many were not inhabited at the time and were not destroyed. on the other hand there are abundant remains of egyptian military outposts and administrative centers that testify to the imperial rule that one of the most powerful empires in the ancient world. so even if the exodus did occur in some fashion the israelites were making a journey from one part of egypt to another. the bible doesn't reach into this. the most likely explanation for the origin of the israelites is that they would themselves be canaanites. dna studies have indicated that the jewish and palestinians are
8:05 pm
very closely related. both of them are descended from the canaanites. genetically they are the same people. both of them misplace thousands of years that the three men who would meet in camp david in september 1978 accepted that the booker -- biblical accounts. even sadat believed that god had chosen the and let them to the promised land but as a muslim he believed it if the had broken their covenant with the lord and he turned against them. now i'm going to sketch out a little bit of the history leading up to camp david and you'll see why it's such a remarkable event. in november 1947 the u.n. partitioned this portion of the ottoman empire into two parts. one to be the jewish date and
8:06 pm
another, the other part set aside for the palestinian people. the following made the state of israel came into being along with its the doomed twin palestine. five arab armies. it wasn't just israel they were attacking. there was a land grab for palestine. jordan took the west bank, egypt to gaza and israel took the rest of it. so much for palestine. in 1956 after egyptian president alabaster nationalizes the attack egypt and take over. president eisenhower, furious, force the return of sinai region. this marked the end of england and france's great powers. it also consolidated in the minds of arabs the notion that israel was an outpost of western
8:07 pm
colonialism and for better or worse america took on the middle east. in 1967 nasser demanded the u.n. peacekeepers be removed from sinai cut off access which israel considered -- in the june israel attacked and wiped out three arab armies in six days. israel succeeded the west bank the old city of jerusalem which have been under jordanian control since 1948 into the golan heights in syria as well as the sinai peninsula including gaza and egypt. he tripled the size of israel adding 1.5 million arabs. at the time israel only had 2 million jews. now i want to tell you a little bit about the psychological effect on the 1957 -- before toward jews were leaving in great numbers. there was a sense that israel was doomed and as war itself
8:08 pm
became manifest and it's likely to happen gas masks were passed around egypt at the time was in a war and yemen using chemical weapons. there were trenches dug in city parks for mass graves expecting thousands and thousands of deaths but the egyptian -- was wiped out. they call it the six-day war but it was decided in the first 60 minutes. the thrill of rapture was in the air. for muslims, the humiliation of
8:09 pm
the six-day war also had a defined consequence. in the minds of many it meant that god had turned against them. why would he do that? perhaps because we weren't good enough. we weren't pure enough. radical islam was stirred to life and begin to express itself in acts of terror. after the six-day war the u.n. passed resolution was 242 which israel signed. it states that israel will withdraw from territories seized in the six-day war. it doesn't say all territories and it doesn't say the territory. joseph territory which opens the idea that there's a possibility for negotiation over which territory it would be. the negotiations never actually took place. very quickly is raising -- israeli settlements began to
8:10 pm
spring up in the occupied territory in goal line east jerusalem the west bank and sinai. there's one lesson to be learned from studying the wars of the middle east it is that neither victory nor defeat brings one ordinarily a group lays the groundwork for the next one. in october 1973 on yom kippur egypt stunned israel by sending its vast army across the suez canal. israel was caught by surprise. israel had lost 200 tanks, 35 aircraft several hundred aircraft had doubled. in desperation israel is returned to the u.s. for help. nixon agreed to resupply defense forces with the soviets were just beginning to resupply. american intelligence detector
8:11 pm
that israel might have been arming its nuclear missile in the case of an overwhelming defeat. israeli forces would cover an break your egyptian lines crossing the suez canal and trapping the egyptians. in the sinai desert. at this point the soviets sent three airborne divisions on alert and sent a naval flotilla into the region. now i'm nixon under siege in the white house because of watergate drunk most of the time raises the nuclear alert to the highest level it's been in america since the cuban missile crisis. took extraordinary diplomacy by henry kissinger to stop the superpower train wreck and disentangle the army in the sinai desert. this was the story of the first 30 years of israel's existence and continual warfare with its neighbors but especially with egypt, the only arab country
8:12 pm
composed of genuine threat to israel's existence. now let's take a look at the three men who would meet at camp david. jimmy carter was a one term governor of georgia when he was elected president in 1976. the carters were the only white family and the little south georgia hamlet near planes. there were 65 other families in the area. they were all black. rosen said when jimmy was a boy his accent was almost indistinguishable from his playmates. he and his best friends would go to the movie theater. he had to stop the train were a white boy in a black boy to go to the movie together. a white boy gets on one car and the black boy gets on another car. they get to the town, they go to the theater and a black child goes to the balcony and the white child goes downstairs.
8:13 pm
the only jews that carter knew well where his uncle and insurance salesman in chattanooga to kachin himself with one hand. that made a huge impression on the young jimmy carter. they arab he meant arab he met was at the daytona 500 when he was governor of georgia. he had lost his first race for governor to lester maddox. i'm sure many of you remember lester maddox. i interviewed him when i was a young reporter. he was famous of course for chasing black customers out of his restaurant with an ax handle and a pistol in his hand and also for riding a bicycle backwards which is really pretty impressive. but that loss to lester maddox was a crippling moment for jimmy carter's political career.
8:14 pm
this is what is sometimes referred to as the born as the born-again period. he went to a period of despair. he recovered and immediately begin running for governor once more. his biggest supporter interestingly enough was an iranian jewish name david rav mum mom which is a wealthy businessman from savannah. he was also a pilot. he would fly carter around the state for his speeches and they were in the plane so much that jimmy learned how to fly this little cessna while raven took cat naps. at one point as they were flying raven is napping and the engine died. carter nudged him and said david wake up. what's wrong? we are out of gas and he says well then we will crash. [laughter] he let that sit there for a
8:15 pm
minute and reached down and turned on the spare tank. in my experience not a lot of people teased jimmy carter. to testify to the depth of that relationship, later carter said we are nearing the end of the race. appears i'm going to win and you have been so helpful to me. what can i give to you? and he said jimmy i don't need anything from you. there's one thing i'm going to ask, if elected i want you to address the problem of racial discrimination which has held the state back for so long. carter reached over and he got an old flight map and the road on their i say to you the time for racial discrimination is over. he showed it to raban and he said if i'm elected i will say this and raban said sign it. [laughter] well he did say it and that got
8:16 pm
him on the cover of "time" magazine and planted the seed of his presidential campaign. now if you want to know whose secret -- is secretly thinking of running for president he is traveling to israel. carter and roslyn travel to israel in 1970. at that time nobody really knew he had these plans in the back of his mind. golda meir was the prime minister and she lent them a station wagon. they drove around israel and the west bank and they got to wade in the river jordan which was so meaningful to them. they have the opportunity to go to synagogue on the west bank. at that time jimmy estimated there were only 1500 settlers in the west bank but he could already see it was a formidable threat.
8:17 pm
when he got back and returned a station wagon he told golda meir there were only two other people in the synagogue when we came and he reminded her that whenever the jews turned against god they would lose politically and militarily. she laughed at him. he was the governor of georgia. what did he know? but a few months later so god sent his army across the suez and golda meir had to step down from her office. now carter came home determined to do whatever he could for the state of israel. four years later he was sitting in the oval office. he told me that he felt that god had placed him in that high office in order to bring peace to the holy land. walter mondale his vice president said he was quite shocked. i'm a first day of carter being in office he announced that he intended to forward a comprehensive peace in the
8:18 pm
middle east. not the easiest task especially for a neophyte president. none of carters advisers encouraged it but he began to interview leaders of the middle east who came to meet the new president and he was singularly unimpressed until one day anwar sadat came and jimmy carter fell in love. he actually said he loved and worse about. it was not the normal language of international diplomacy. i wondered about this relationship. it was quite striking. both of them had a feeling for each other that everybody recognized. what was the? i think in part they shared certain experiences. jimmy grew up plowing the red soil of south georgia barefoot behind a meal and anwr sadat did something similar in the rich
8:19 pm
nile delta behind a water buffalo. i think it also i'm speculating, but i think there might've been some, something about the fact that sadat was black. so dobbs mother was the daughter friend and -. so there might have done feeling of kinship there. sadat was a man full of contradictions. he seemed to be looking for him to give him some huge right. once when he was a kid in this village he was following some boys. they all were going swimming in his irrigation ditch and they jumped in the water. he jumped into and he realized, i can't swim. he said his thoughts were if i
8:20 pm
die egypt will have lost anwar sadat. this was a kid with big plans. when he was 12 years old mahatma gandhi came through the suez canal on his way to england to negotiate the future of india. this made a tremendous impression on 12-year-old anwar sadat. so much so he's took his clothes off and wore an apron and built a spindle and been on the roof of his house and started spinning threat. at the same time or near that time he developed an affection for adolf hitler. now wasn't completely uncharacteristic for a deviant to admire the nazis because they were fighting the egyptians and many egyptians hated the british are occupying egypt at the time but even years after world war ii when 10 million people were dead, sadat was asked to write a
8:21 pm
theoretical letter to hitler. he once again expressed his great admiration for him. and man of extraordinary contradiction. during the second world war when he was a 23-year-old captain in the egyptian army he tried to make an alliance with general irwin rommel the desert fox, the great german tank commander who was in the north part of egypt. the way that sadat tried to make contact was he sent a friend in an airplane with a letter but the germans shot it down so the message did not get through. but later he collaborated with a pair of nazi spies in cairo and he became a part of what he called the murder society. this was a group of egyptian
8:22 pm
underground. their main goal was to kill british soldiers. most of the time when they are wandering drunk and alone in the streets of cairo but sadat redirected their energies to attack in political assassinations. he tried twice to kill the prime minister of egypt and they did succeed in killing another minister. he went to prison for five years for escaping. eventually he was able to return to the army and participate in the 1952 coup by military officers. i was in cairo when gamal pollock dowser was in egypt. he had a heart attack and died in 1970. i will never forget that night. you know that huber lading sound of the arab women in the morning?
8:23 pm
the city was just vibrating and for three days this immense city full of people was vacant until the burial and then we saw millions in the streets. sadat had become president. everybody thought he was a clo clown. he had missed the revolution. he had been at the theater. a double feature. the revolution happened and then he became president. so nobody thought he would become a startling figure. within a year he had rounded up many of nasser's cronies and thrown them -- when we lived in cairo we had no diplomatic relations between the u.s. and egypt. they roam a couple hundred americans in the whole country but thousands of russians. the russians news agency was
8:24 pm
across the street from our apartment and sadat expelled them. there were only two superpowers and he had no diplomatic relations with the u.s. and the only friend he had, powerful friend he threw out of the country. once again nobody could figure out what he was up to. then in 1977 in a speech to the egyptian parliament he announces i'm willing to go to the ends of the earth even to israel, even to jerusalem, even to the parliament of knesset as it would advance the cause of peace and save one more egyptian life. everybody applauded because nobody believed him. even yassir arafat was in the audience and he applied. it was even reported in the newspaper the next week but a couple of weeks later said that the plane is flying into israel. first of all it takes less than an hour to fly from egypt into
8:25 pm
israel. they are very close neighbors. yet they didn't know each other at all. what was so striking, these people have been at war for 30 years and yet they had very little experience with each other. sadat said there was a tremendous psychological barrier. it was 90% of the problem. when he's flying over tel aviv they have floodlights capturing the plane just after chabot. nobody knows that sadat is really on the plane. there is talk that maybe it's full of explosives. maybe there are terrorists. the airport is with snipers just in case it's not sadat to get off the plane. the israeli orchestrated know how to play the egyptian national anthem so they didn't have sheet music. they tuned into radio cairo to
8:26 pm
pick up how to play the song. suddenly the plane lands and sadat gets off and he kisses golda meir on each cheek. this was an earthquake essentially. up until that point no arab leader would even acknowledge the existence of israel but they had to actually cross that barrier. it was a remarkable moment. now he left -- sadat felt that this momentous overture would be rewarded but he left his real empty-handed. that was largely because of the mock him bacon. this is a man whose entire career had been about expanding the territory of israel as a refuge for jews. he had grown up in a little polish town. his earliest memory was of a polish soldier slogging jews in
8:27 pm
a public park. when the nazis invaded poland they executed 5000 jews. menachem's mother had pneumonia. his father was tied up and rocks were put in his pocket and he was drowned in the river. menachem was hiding in lithuania when that happened and he spent two years in soviet prisons in the gulags before stalin freed the polls to fight the nazis. the jewish unit that begin joined was sent to palestine. when he arrived in palestine he became the head of the terrorist group that was targeting the british who are part of the mandate in palestine at the time. one of their most famous actions was in 1946 when begin's -- blew
8:28 pm
up a hotel the most luxurious hotel in the mandate of palestine at the time and part it was the nerve center of the british mandate. 91 people were killed. they struck again and again almost daily and begin had a genius for theater. he understood how terror can be used to promote his cause. for instance when some were flogged by the british you can imagine how that would go awaken memories of menachem begin, he captured some british officers and have them flawed. this was so shocking newspapers all over the world carried it. when the british hanged three convicted urban terrorists begin
8:29 pm
hanged to british sergeants that it captured and booby-trapped their bodies. in 1948 while israel was still fighting for its independence ergen troops attacked a little village, palestinian village. it was a peaceful village that had made a nonaggression pact with its ultra-orthodox neighbors. it stood above a strategic approach into the city of jerusalem and beg and felt that it needed to be taken. his story is based on the soundtrack ahead to warn the villagers that the truck fell into a ditch and nobody heard them. when there was resistance from the village the aragon attackers went through and through a grenade to the windows. they blew up the houses with t
8:30 pm
tnt. surviving women and children were loaded on a flatbed truck and paraded through the old city of jerusalem. about 20 male survivors were taken to a quarry and executed. there were palestinians who were fleeing israel already but after that the gates fluttered open and 750,000 palestinians left. the doors locked behind them. begin was to announce by the jews all over the world. he came to new york that same year and albert einstein and hannah arrant signed a protest asking him not to come to the united states. even in israel he was regarded as an extremist, a marginal figure on the sidelines of israeli politics. david ben-gurion called him a little hitler, fascist and a racist that wanted to kill all the arabs.
8:31 pm
but after the 1973 wars wins the dots forces crossed the canal israili began to look upon begin as a possible strongman who could recapture the sense of vulnerability that israel had enjoyed after the six day war. so these were the three men who came to camp david while the wounds of war were still fresh. are there lessons in the camp david summit? that we could learn from today? i offer several that i think will help frame our current failed efforts. there are no perfect partners for peace. look at them and they came to camp david. an assassin and a terrorist leader and a sailing an unpopular president. he would be hard to imagine three less likely partners for peace but there was one quality they all shared in abundance
8:32 pm
which was political courage. timing isn't everything. it's true that the 1973 yom kippur war should israel out of his reverie of unchallenged dominance and change the political context but the surprise attack by a sadat only reinforced in the minds of many israelis the need to keep the sinai peninsula as a strategic barrier against the main israeli army i made the main egyptian army. in egypt a sadat was not just in egypt but the whole arab world subbot was practically alone in his belief that peace in israel was possible or even desirable. two of his foreign ministers resigned following his trip to jerusalem and the third resigned at camp david. in fact the dissension in the
8:33 pm
egyptian delegation was so great that at one point at four in the morning carter wouk worried that sadat was going to be murdered by his own delegation at camp david and they called zbigniew brzezinski and look them up and brzezinski was running around in his pajamas reinforcing security around sadat's cabin to protect him from his own people. eventually -- killed him and the camp david agreement was probably a death warrant. carter had his own problems. he was struggling with a faltering economy. double-digit inflation. the prime rate was 20%. there was a revolution in iran and midterm congressional elections. his political advisers unanimously opposed his quixotic decision to seek peace in the middle east when there were so many pressing problems at home.
8:34 pm
finally america plays a crucial role. egypt and israel simply could make the case by themselves. after the fifth day carter did something he really didn't want to do. he decided to create an american plan. there was already a prospective plan in the works but he made america a full partner to the negotiations. he made it clear to both men that their relationship with the united states was on the line. for instance at one point said god had ordered a helicopter. he packed all this begs. he was leaving and carter told me he had never been angrier and his whole life. he went to sadat and said if you do this there'll be no more relationships between our countries and our friendship will be over. egypt will be alone and helpless in the world. it was in carter's terms it come
8:35 pm
to jesus moment. sadat stayed and on a couple of other occasions begin threaten to leave and carter said i will make sure the american people will know. he said he is going to speak to the congress and put the blame on begin. he had a speechwriter draw up a speech in which he asked the israeli people to vote down the government. can you imagine? but by doing this carter allowed each side to make concessions to the united states that he -- that they couldn't make to each other. these are some of the lessons of the success of camp david but there are lessons of failure as well. the accords sketch out a resolution to the israeli-palestinian dispute which has never been fully implemented. all of our efforts since then have been an attempt to finish the camp david accords. peace requires painful compromises. that neither side has been
8:36 pm
willing to make and yet the alternative is unending strife. if there is one final lesson of camp david it is that peace is worth the price. thank you very much. [applause] b if you can since we are recording this if you can come around to where i am to ask your questions so we can get them on the microphone. questions? >> i do have a question. president carter often talks about the photographs. >> i think that's a good point. this conference had ups and downs. roslyn at one point was almost physically ill by the gyrations, the emotional gyrations that the worst moment in the conference no doubt was the last day,
8:37 pm
sunday. carter believed that everything had been signed and all that remained was to go to the white house and official the accords. russian had alerted the networks that they would be interrupting the emmys and they were setting up the tables and chairs in the east room of the white house. sadat had asked carter to provide a side letter about jerusalem, an issue that they decided was too hot to put into the accords so they -- each side was writing an opinion. it had no legal standing. it was a statement of the position that each side had regarding jerusalem and carter wrote a letter saying the american position on east jerusalem is as was stated by
8:38 pm
three previous american u.n. ambassadors going back to arthur goldberg and he quoted them saying east jerusalem as occupied territory. that letter came into begin's hands on sunday and he told carter, you have to retract it. you have betrayed betrayed me in carter's that i can. i made a pledge to sadat and this has no standing. still begin said the conference is over and the signing itself. he was so angry about it. perhaps he was having buyer's remorse. we don't know exactly what was going through his mind but at that point carter walked back to his cabin and it was his most despond that moment. the exhaustion of those 13 days and the sense that it had been right there in his hands and now it was a fiasco.
8:39 pm
there was a photograph of the three men sitting on the porch outside of the presidential cabin and carter had some copies of it made up to give to begin for his grandchildren. his secretary had thoughtfully called israel and gotten the names of his grandchildren. carter inscribed each of them personally and said loves jimmy carter. very reluctantly he went back to begin and begin was rigid. their relationship was over. it was essentially goodbye mr. president. carter handed him the manila campolo with the pictures inside and begin, it was to one of his grandchildren. they were all the described and he began to weep and carter also began to cry and he said i had
8:40 pm
hoped to write this is where your grandfather and i made peace in the middle east. so we went back to his cabin to tell sadat that the signing was off and the phone rang and begin was calling to say that he would sign. such things the fate of the world depends upon. >> i loved your book. i thought it was very thoughtful, very dramatic and i read it in three or four days. could you do me a favor and expound a little bit on your theory as to how this related to the growing muslim brotherhood movement that came out of this, how was that ignited, how does that fit into this process? >> well when i was in egypt which was 69 to 71 nasser had rounded up the muslim brotherhood and thrown them in prison. very much like -- now but it was
8:41 pm
a dragnet. many of them were imprisoned. and then nasser died and said god, he was very religious. he thought he was inoculated because of his piety. at that time egypt wasn't nearly as conservative. none of my female students was covered. now they all are and sadat had the prayer mark on his fore head that was for a lot of egyptians kind of an embarrassing thing. now it's as common as they can be. he was a very pious man and he thought because of his piety come he called himself the first man of islam, that he could safely let the muslim brothers out of prison. but he wasn't aware of the radical currents that had been stirring in those prisons and
8:42 pm
the younger members who were far more radical than the older generation. he was in those prisons, this egyptian prisons where a lot of the debate had taken place. egyptian society after the camp david accords, there was a tremendous letdown. the piece peace that they thought was going to bring them prosperity didn't really happen. and there was never a sense of embracing these people. at this point a lot of radical movements began to take shape. one of the people that i wrote about in looming tower i'm in al zawahiri who is now the head of al qaeda, he ended other group they planned, he was tangentially involved in a
8:43 pm
assassination of sadat in 1981 but they had a plan to kill the foreign leaders who came to bury sadat. it could've been that all three leaders were killed because of their experience at camp david but that plot was broken up. i think camp david was in some ways a symbolic moment. he should have been a moment of hope, a moment of change in egyptian society but truthfully unloved peace in israel and egypt and yet both sides know the alternatives is so much worse. i think it's a measure of how hard they wanted to achieve that
8:44 pm
peace that it still felt today. >> i have got two questions. the first is whether or not there was any consideration of including palestinians in peace talks and the second question is whether there were any promises of foreign aid or military agreements made as a result of the agreement? >> the first thing, the palestinians weren't represent represented. there was a time when carter was talking about the geneva conference. they were trying to find a way in which palestinians could be represented but not by the plo. it was a terrorist organization that wasn't going to be allowed, can't talk to the plo. so when camp david came along,
8:45 pm
there was not an obvious representative. it's doubtful, completely unlikely that begin would have gone to camp david if the palestinians were there. but sadat took it on himself to negotiate for the palestinians caused. honestly, if you look at his involvement he's ambivalent. he did not want to make separate piece that he was willing to sell them out and i'm not saying he did in the camp david accords. there is a linkage between the peace between the israelis and the egyptians and its purported peace between the israelis and the palestinians but sadat what he really wanted was finite. it became apparent that he was -- he they wanted sinai he would have to sign this other
8:46 pm
framework for peace that never really did get implemented. i have forgotten the other question. oh the money. we have been spending about $3 billion a year giving israel $3 billion a year since then and $2.5 billion to egypt. it's been an expensive piece for the american people but cheaper than the alternative i believe. >> the play was terrific and the book was terrific. i'm wondering from an author's standpoint which was harder to write, the book or the play and obviously some movie producers should be interested in converting this book into a movie. have you given much thought to who should play the major parts? [laughter]
8:47 pm
>> well, i don't want to get in trouble on casting but i will say richard thomas played jimmy carter. some of you are old enough to remember the waltons and i was kidding richard because he was far more popular than jimmy carter at that time. he was one of the most popular people in the country. and ron rifkin played begin. i remember at the curtain call when jimmy in roslyn came up to greet the actors. sadat was also present. she throws her arms around him and says the begin. he had an egyptian movie star
8:48 pm
plays sadat. yes we would love to do a movie. we talk about it and it's always been jerry's dream. writing is always hard but there are artist delights as well. i want to be writing the thing that i'm not writing at the time but i love writing the play. i was very rewarded by writing this book and having the opportunity to talk with the carters and interview all these people. i'm glad i had the chance to get to them but some of them i was too late for. >> you mentioned the pressure that carter applied to sadat and
8:49 pm
it was a real threat. i was wondering what is there any sense at that point that he might well revert back to russians and particularly in this time when the so-called arc of the crisis was going on when carter and brzezinski's seemed so concerned. whether the goal was ethiopia or afghanistan in some sense, the soviet hostilities they are going further. was then not in the offing? >> said sadat had a very complicated relationship. the russians were not liked when they were there. they were seen as atheists and unfriendly whereas americans go around hi you know to everyone. we are friends with everybody. i remember the soviets used to
8:50 pm
have a press agency across the way and they used to have parties on saturday night. these parties were the most dismal looking things. you'd see them with the vodka just sitting on couches. and the music they were playing was all an american pop songs. i always remember theresa brewer singing nickelodeon. and that glom soviets. sadat's expulsion of the russians was in many respects rather popular in egypt. and it had an answer sting effect on the soviets. they began to be more responsive to sadat's demand for weapons and things like that. it's conceivable that they might've turned to him again. he was a master manipulator like that but i don't think you ever
8:51 pm
rose as the real choice. >> a quick question about your opening comment about the relevance today. have you had any inquiries from anyone in positions of power in washington who have seen the play or read the book and who have said wide-awake chat and what can we draw from at? >> actually we did have a lot of people in the play from washington and martin n. was the chief negotiator and became twice. the last night of the play he brought his negotiating team. he said it felt very familiar but he just wished his attempt could have turned out as well. the state department invited us, secretary kerry invited us and introduced us for secretaries roundtable or something like that. it was great.
8:52 pm
we were well treated and i do think this play provided commentary on how difficult these kids, how saunders was an undersecretary of state at the time. he was at camp david and before the summit took place he went down to the historian at the state department and he asked, has this ever happened before? the historian said an american diplomatic history there's one example which was teddy roosevelt and the russian japanese war, the first great war of the 20th century. roosevelt invited envoys from both sides and he took them to portsmouth, actually in maine but across from the portsmouth naval facility. pretty secluded and there they hammered out a peace treaty.
8:53 pm
george mitchell in northern ireland and the soviets but really in the whole history of the world there's not a whole lot of examples where two warring parties are brought together and compelled. my favorite example is when pope alexander the sixth or something like that decided to resolve the dispute between the spanish and the portuguese so he divided the world between the two of them. the spanish were going to get the new world. there was a line on the globe so north and south america, spain and africa were all going to portugal. the pope didn't know that brazil snuck out over the line. that is why they speak portuguese today. they became a portuguese province for the region. but you


info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on